I don’t always hire a professional, but when I do, I want to make sure it’s affordable and worth it.
As I’ve shared in previous posts, I recently began to travel down a path of creativity and empowerment in efforts to continue creating my own happiness. Much of that path involves increased self-reliance, which requires creativity and fuels empowerment! I’ve discovered that making my own (or DIY-ing, as we Pin-kids say these days) food, gifts, skin care, etc. is not only doable but fun and rewarding! And in many cases, DIY projects save money and are, by nature, much more customizable than the alternative.
DIY is a major theme today, but it doesn’t satisfy all needs, all the time. While the “I CAN do this by myself!” concept is empowering and at times, saves time and/or money, sometimes it actually costs more time and/or money to finagle a DIY. I’ve found that, especially when multiple projects stack up, I can get overwhelmed and the projects lose their fun. There are a few elements to consider when deciding whether to attempt a creative DIY/project, or to farm out the task in need.
I’ll share a story to illustrate the power of a great professional, and then I’ll break down those key elements to help find a great professional for any need.
I’ve heard and learned from experience that Pinterest can be completely overwhelming to anyone planning a wedding. “Did you see the bride who DIY’d her own wedding dress? She hand-sewed macramé flowers onto fabric she wove from her homegrown cotton plants, then dip-dyed it to create a perfect pale cream ombre color palette.” Ugh! Thank goodness I had my FABULOUS florist Mary (see below!) to talk me down when I breezed into Sunnyside Gardens with a clear vision, and then Pinterest took over, glue guns a-blazing.
Initially, I brought her a photograph of my color inspiration for our New England fall wedding – it was a simple white cake with just a few bright orange lily blooms arranged on/around the three tiers. I told her that I wanted to let our nuptial flower garden speak for itself and I’d describe my dream theme as simple, yet elegant. Then I turned on my Pinterest-brain and started talking about centerpieces with lanterns, flowers and candles of varying sizes, including DIY plans to arrange bouquets and centerpieces for myself and my MOHs, and way too many crafting plans. And, thank goodness, Mary hesitated after my inspirational rant wound down, and pumped my brakes (brake-pumpers are another KEY player in any sane wedding, especially for overly excitable/ambitious planners like me).
She reminded me of the original dream theme I had wanted and helped me strike the perfect balance between simple, yet elegant, and my Pinterest-fueled DIY ambitions. After we combined my vision and her expertise, we decided that the girls and I would assemble centerpieces and she would take care of the rest of the flowers. She also talked me down to a simple and gorgeous centerpiece – flowers only – to heighten focus on the important elements of the day…like the incredible people in our lives, and all of the love 🙂 I’m very happy to share that on the day of our wedding, I was calm and content. Excited, but peaceful! I got plenty of sleep the night before, and enjoyed every second of the entire weekend. Clearly I’m biased, but my husband and I had SO much fun at our wedding, and thought it was beautiful! And no macramé was harmed in the making.
So how did we do it? Balance! We searched high tech (theknot.com) and low (asked around) for fantastic professionals who met the criteria below, trusted their expertise, and then incorporated the perfect amount of DIY projects for us. Plus, I leaned heavily on my unbelievable Maids of Honor and parents for help. Family and friends cannot go unappreciated in any discussion about our wedding! It wouldn’t have been remotely the same without them, and from a logistics perspective, I’m lucky I could delegate tasks and research to my MOHs and parents.
Speaking of research – it is key, but the amount of information available can be crazy! I don’t need to know a caterer’s blood type, but I certainly do care whether she consistently serves delicious food in a timely and carefully-styled manner, and can stick to a budget. So before I share my must-call professionals, here are a few key elements I believe contribute to a fantastic experience, whether you’re planning a baby shower or a backyard BBQ.
Great professionals MUST:
- Understand your vision, and honor it
- Honoring your vision includes staying true to your wishes despite challenges like budget, confusing opinions, and excessive Pinterest ideas from YOU
- Set and adhere to realistic expectations about budget
- In this case, realistic may not align with your idea of reality, but the general consensus. If you’re not sure how much wedding flowers, a fancy hairdo or a catered party should cost, Google it.
- Follow through – all the way through
- On the morning before our wedding, we surveyed the flowers and vases Mary had provided for us to put together the centerpieces, and saw that the vases were too small. I left her a message and within a couple of hours, she had larger vases delivered – because when she purchased them for us, she got extras and a variety JUST IN CASE. That’s a fantastic professional.
I do read reviews, and when I do I look for these three criteria to ensure the professional meets my needs. I also try to listen with an open mind when I speak to anyone. I am in banking – I have NO idea what it takes to cater a birthday party, nor create a low-key yet engaging atmosphere for a baby shower. That’s why I’ll do my research, try to clearly communicate my vision, and then trust the professionals to do their job.
One more thing to bear in mind – in order for a professional to understand your vision, including budget, honesty is key. Bring photos, think through your inspiration and desires, and be prepared to discuss without emotions in the mix. Or at least without emotions tempering your ability to have a great conversation with an expert. I’ll readily admit I cried happily while discussing the flowers with which we’d honor and remember my husband’s mother at our wedding.
So – to save time, I’ve compiled a list of my must-call professionals and happily share them with you. For reference, I live in southern Massachusetts and absolutely love and highly recommend these pros. I initially chose to work with them based on the above criteria and reviews from previous clients, but they’re also amazing people!! They’re fun, cool, interesting, and SO talented. I pretty much want to be best friends with all of them. Again – not part of the criteria, just a huge added bonus. Having fun with a photographer, especially, is key! So for your enjoyment, I proudly share with you my must-call professionals.
Please note, none of them are compensating me in any way for this shout-out. They’re just crazy-good and deserve the kudos!! I will hire them again without hesitation and am happy to answer any questions if you would like more information about how I worked with them.
My Must-Call Professionals and How to Find Them (contact info below!)
|Profession (Location)||Professional||Preferred Method of Contact|
|Cake Baker (Framingham, MA)||Jacqui at Cakes by J and Jfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Florist (Hopkinton, MA)||Mary at Sunnyside Gardens||508-435-3631|
|Photographer (New England)||Brian Currier Photography||Briancurrierphotography.com|
|Makeup (New Hampshire)||Makeup by Jessalynn||Facebook (Makeup by Jessalynn)|
|Hair (Newton, MA)||Alketa at Davis Hair Salon||617-244-9626|
|Massage (Norwood, MA)||Jillian at Sandra’s Massage Therapy||Sandrasmassagetherapy.com|
|Spa Services (Providence, RI)||Lauren at Facing Thayer||Facingthayer.com|
|Event venue/restaurant (Salem, MA)||Danny at Opusemail@example.com|
|Catering (Massachusetts)||Cindy at Deja Blu Cateringfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|DJ (Massachusetts)||Tom Creamemail@example.com or 508-649-9254|
|Event venue (Wellesley, MA)||Kayleigh at Elm Bankfirstname.lastname@example.org or 617-933-4921|
|Event Lighting (Massachusetts)||Jim Powers at CJC Event Lightingemail@example.com or 413-737-7555|
|Bridal Gowns (Bellingham, MA)||Shadia at (508) 966-0091
This post contains affiliate links! When you purchase something through the links, it doesn’t cost you anything additional but I get paid a little! For more information, check out my disclaimer page.
And I’d love to hear from you who I missed! There are so many incredible professionals out there. Anyone you want to call out? Or anyone on my list you want to give a shout-out to? It’s SO hard to start and maintain a small business – more power to all of these incredible people!
I am having a blast writing, and I hope it brings you a smile, and maybe even some good information (I’m guessing more laughs than “aha moments”, but I’ll take what I can get)! Thank you for reading this post!
A Happy Wife 🙂